Posted in Lifestyle, Reviews, Travel

Japan Prepaid Data SIM card comparison review – Making travel SIM-ple

One of the first things that everyone does upon touchdown (other than releasing their seatbelt) after a flight, is to turn on their mobile phones and then try to latch onto free Wi-Fi to update their online status on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or to message their safe arrival on WhatsApp, LINE or WeChat, etc.

wifi
Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi, where art thou??

As free Wi-Fi isn’t that common throughout Japan yet, one of the first reliable options available to travellers was renting a mobile router.

Now, we have more choices than ever with an all-new alternative: renting a data SIM card for convenient and reliable Wi-Fi access, with carriers such as NTT and Softbank getting on board to offer data-only SIM cards targeting tourists.

sim
Want value and convenience? Join the SIMs

Broadly speaking, there are 2 options when it comes to getting a data only SIM card – those you order in advance (which can be picked up at the airport, your hotel or a specified address in Japan), and those that you can buy in the airport/department stores in Japan.

Within these two groups, one has an additional two options: a SIM card that needs online activation (i.e.: you need to hunt for free Wi-Fi first) or one that doesn’t.

Personally, I’ve tried both and I prefer data SIM cards that do not require online activation. After all, if online access were so easily available why would there be a need for data SIM cards in the first place?

So-net offers LTE SIM cards at major airports such as Narita, Haneda and Kansai International Airport to name a few, as well as some retail outlets.

sim1
A So-net sim card dispenser.

Others such as Iijmio’s Japan Travel SIM card are available at retail stores like Bic Camera or at Blue Sky, the airport convenience store, for example.

eConnect can be ordered online and delivered to a specified address in Japan, as well as b-mobile.

I found eConnect the most convenient as it did not require online activation. You have to pay for the delivery fee but it’s probably worth it for that extra peace of mind.

All SIM cards will require you to set up the Access Point Name in order to get a Wi-Fi signal.

android_01  android_03

Once the APN information data is entered correctly, the Wi-Fi sign will magically appear and your social network signal will flicker back to life!

Here’s a comparison table of the above-mentioned SIM cards.

b-mobile PAYG SIM eConnect Prepaid Data SIM Japan Travel SIM powered by iijmio Prepaid LTE SIM by So-net
Carrier Japan Communications NTT Communications IIJmio So-net
Where to buy? Hotels: Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Kyoto Royal Hotel & SPAOnline Stores: b-mobile, yodobashi.com, amazon.co.jp*Electronic retailers: Yodobashi Camera*Retail stores: AEON, Dospara Online *Retail stores: AEON*Electronic retailers: Bic Camera, Softmap, Yodobashi Camera, etc.Airport convenience store: Blue Sky Airports: Narita Airport, Kansai International Airport, Shinchitose Airport, etc
Online Activation Needed? Yes No No Yes
Type of plan Calls/Data Data Data Data
Duration Calls: 60 minutes (International & Local calls & SMS)Data: 3GB7 days 3GB for 30 days (3G) 2GB for 3 months 1GB, or 2.2GB for 30 days3GB for 60 days
Speed 4G & 3G 3G LTE & 3G LTE & 3G
Identification documents required Passport Passport Passport Passport
Cost 9,980 yen 4,700 yen Set by retailer 3,000 yen (1GB) 4,000 yen (2.2GB) 5,000 yen (3GB)

For a more comprehensive comparison review, click here.

Author:

Shiro is an aspiring onsen monkey, originally from Singapore, now living in Japan. "Bliss is a cold beer after a hot onsen."

8 thoughts on “Japan Prepaid Data SIM card comparison review – Making travel SIM-ple

  1. Hi, a great article to be up considering how this is indeed one of the first things that most travellers hunt for.
    I personally have used iijmio’s travellers sim. Bought two sizes from
    Bic camera. Purchasing was easy. Setting up less so. Performance throughout my 4 day trip was on and off. Perhaps it was because I was using a mii note as a proxy found to use as a hotspot device, however I frequently found myself having to delete and re-add the APN settings. The internet connect would still drop at times and the usual connection data (like strength and type of phone and data connection displayed at the top of the phone) did not appear at all.

    During the times where I was not on a long 3 way phone call between their Japanese support person who would listen in as I spoke to a translator who would then translate back to the support person then back to me, as well as when the data connection randomly disappears, the connection strength and speed of the 3G (NOT LTE) cards were really good! I also liked that you could check your data usage online pretty easily.

    Perhaps in an updated article, a more in depth study into how the SIM cards perform with commonly used modern phones handle. Might be a better guide and save a lot of time and hassle for some.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Since all the others are data only, you should be comparing the bmobile 1GB data-only sim that costs <4000jpy and does not require any identification or online activation. Instead you are unfairly comparing the other three against the bmobile PAYG sim which includes voice plan.

    Like

  3. Since you are comparing data-only sims, the right sim to compare for bmobile is the 1GB 14day sim which costs <4000jpy and does not require identification (and not the PAYG which includes voice plan and hence more expensive ).

    Like

  4. Great post!
    I recently travelled to Japan and ordered the 3GB data SIM from econnect and had it delivered to Narita. This was one of the best decisions I could have made! I never had to worry about data (which came in really useful because I was constantly on google maps) Also, I was extremely impressed that they thought to add a paper clip in the packaging (so I could easily remove the SIM tray!) The connection was good and it was really easy to use because it was pre activated.
    FYI the post office at Narita is located on the 4th floor departures, in the shopping area next to Starbucks (took me awhile to find it lol)

    Like

  5. Is blue sky convenience shop found within the departure hall of Narita airport or outside the departure hall? If outside which floor can we find it? What time will they be open?

    Like

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